The Library of America’s recent publication of the American writings of Vladimir Nabokov in three volumes gives occasion for some thoughts about the nature of the writer’s achievement. The first volume, called Novels and Memoirs 1941–1951, contains The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941), Bend Sinister (1947), and Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited (1951, revised 1966). The second, called Novels 1955–1962, contains Lolita (1955), Pnin (1957), Pale Fire (1962), and, as an appendix, Lolita: A Screenplay (written in 1960, published in 1974). In the third volume, called Novels 1969–1974, are Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (1969), Transparent Things (1972), and Look at the Harlequins! (1974).[1] The textual advisor and annotator throughout is Brian Boyd, the author of an impressively learned, if...


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